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THE OLIVE TREE AND THE CHURCH
Definitely worth saving

A Commentary by Constance Vanides

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." (John 15:1, 2)

The young olive tree stood planted in the patio area of the church grounds. My friend and I were chatting away under its welcoming shade when I noticed some of the leaves were dry, though still connected to their branches. On close examination I discovered the branches covered with a type of scaly substance. I recognized the small, brown beetle-type scales were like those which beset the pyracantha berry bush in my own yard. Uh, oh! I knew what that meant!

Our own bush had to be rescued from the neglect we had shown it! Simply dousing with a chemical spray would not kill the disease. We needed to cut away the affected branches. Short of cutting down the whole bush I desperately scraped away at what I could reach. The ugly scales were sticky. But, as anyone who has grown pyracantha knows, it's a vigorous, hardy bush, not easily restrained at best. Its orange-red berries reward us with color in our yard and provide food for birds. And so it was we put in the effort to save the pyracantha. It was definitely worth saving.

But what about the olive tree? How ironic that it stood outside the sanctuary of a church which was having its troubles with dwindling membership and corresponding financial needs. The congregation seemed to be lacking something. It had stopped growing. The dis-ease was there, not always noticeable, except upon closer observation. In short, the congregation needed to be lovingly cared for and tended to!

Not all the other olive trees around the patio were infected. There was hope yet for the trees and the church! Immediate remedies had to be taken. Infected branches had to be pruned from the ailing tree, and nourishment given to what remained. The other trees also required careful loving and special preventive attention, that they would mature and bear fruit.

Gather 'round, you members,
brethren of one another.
Sing the songs of renewing birth.
Come together in one body
just as you were meant to be.
Prune the branches. Til the soil.
Water, feed emerging new growth,
held by the Vine alone,
always nourished and encouraged
by His abiding presence.

Constance Vanides

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